Starting XI, presented by StorageMart, is a biweekly series on SportingKC.com that highlights 11 of the biggest storylines and news updates from Sporting Kansas City, MLS and soccer around the globe. Click here to visit the Starting XI archive.
1. Fight to the Finish
Eliminated from postseason contention for the first time since 2010, Sporting Kansas City (10-15-8, 38 points) will embrace the spoiler role on Sunday when they visit playoff hopefuls FC Dallas (12-12-9, 45 points) as the MLS regular season comes to a dramatic close on Decision Day. Kickoff at Toyota Stadium is slated for 3 p.m. CT with live coverage on FOX Sports Kansas City, FOX Sports Midwest, FOX Sports GO, ESPN 94.5 FM (English) and La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish).
2. Party at the Pub
With Sporting on the road this weekend, supporters across the Kansas City region are invited to Sunday watch parties at any of the club's official pub partners. Among them is No Other Pub in the Kansas City Power & Light District, serving as the flagship hub for Sporting in the heart of downtown at 1370 Grand Blvd.
To celebrate the occasion and close out the season in style, No Other Pub will offer an endless wings and bottomless domestic draft beer package at just $30 per person, plus $4 specials on Bud Light drafts, Corona bottles and Captain Morgan cocktails. No Other Pub will also conduct raffle giveaways for a variety of autographed Sporting merchandise.
3. Great Scot
Sporting Kansas City forward Johnny Russell is set to join the Scotland Men’s National Team for a pair of UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying matches later this month. Russell and Scotland will resume their Group I campaign against Russia on Thursday, Oct. 10, visiting the site of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow for a 1:45 p.m. CT kickoff. The Scots will then return home to face Group I minnows San Marino at 11 a.m. CT on Sunday, Oct. 13, at Hampden Park in Glasgow.
4. Nico Gets the Call
Sporting Kansas City defender Nico Hasler will join the Liechtenstein Men’s National Team for the resumption of UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying during FIFA’s international window next week. Hasler and Liechtenstein are set to host a pair of Group J matches at Rheinpark Stadion in Vaduz, facing Armenia on Saturday, Oct. 12, before welcoming four-time World Cup champion Italy on Tuesday, Oct. 15. Both contests will kick off at 1:45 p.m. CT.
5. Twice as Hungary
Sporting Kansas City defender Botond Barath and forward Krisztian Nemeth were named to the Hungary Men’s National Team roster this week ahead of two UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying matches next month. Barath, Nemeth and the Magyars will travel to face 2018 FIFA World Cup finalist Croatia on Oct. 10 at Stadion Poljud in Split (1:45 p.m. CT) before hosting Azerbaijan on Oct. 13 at Groupama Arena in Budapest (11 a.m. CT). The duo will join Hungary's 26-man squad following Sporting’s MLS regular season finale at FC Dallas on Sunday afternoon at Toyota Stadium.
6. Signing Off
A special season finale of The Sporting KC Show Podcast dropped Tuesday night as hosts Nate Bukaty, Aly Trost and Carter Augustine heard from three fan favorites who have played iconic roles shaping a vibrant soccer culture in Kansas City.
During a festive celebration of the 20-year anniversary of Sports Radio 810 at Tanner's Bar & Grill in Overland Park, Kansas, legendary goalkeeper Tony Meola joined Kansas City natives and fellow MLS Cup champions Matt Besler and Seth Sinovic to put a bow on Sporting's decade of success and reflect on their favorite memories appearing on sports talk radio.
7. Parky on the Pod
Episode 17 of BS The Podcast debuted Wednesday as Benny Feilhaber and Sal Zizzo welcomed Atlanta United FC defender Michael Parkhurst. Set to retire at the end of the 2019 MLS season, Parkhurst joins the gang to discuss his most memorable moments in MLS, what he intends to do after his playing days are done, and who he thinks should win MLS Defender of the Year, an honor he received in 2007.
8. Calling All Gamers
The eSporting Classic is coming to Smash.gg on Saturday, Nov. 2, giving fans the opportunity to compete to become the next eMLS player for Sporting Kansas City. Registration for the inaugural event is now open.
9. Rangers Rolling
Boasting a 3-1-1 record in their last five USL Championships matches, the upstart Swope Park Rangers (6-17-7, 25 points) will hit the road to face Hartford Athletic (6-21-4, 22 points) on Saturday in a battle between the bottom two teams in the Eastern Conference. Kickoff at Dillon Stadium is slated for 6 p.m. CT and supporters can catch Saturday's contest streaming live on ESPN Plus. The USL Championship Match Center and @SwopeRangers on Twitter will provide additional in-game updates.
10. Sporting II
As the next step in aligning the Sporting Kansas City player pathway from the Academy to the first team, Sporting Club has announced that the Swope Park Rangers will become Sporting Kansas City II ahead of the 2020 USL Championship season. Sporting Kansas City II will be guided by the long-term goals of Sporting’s first team, providing a bridge to the professional level for Sporting Kansas City Academy players. The USL Championship side will also provide opportunities for Sporting’s MLS players on loan.
11. Academy in Action
Three Sporting Kansas City Academy teams will kick off their 2019-20 regular seasons in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy on Saturday, hosting the Houston Dynamo in a tripleheader at Swope Soccer Village. The Sporting KC U-15s will kick off at 9 a.m. CT, followed by the U-17s at 11 a.m. and the U-19s at 1:30 p.m. All matches are free and open to the public and live updates will be available via @SKCMatchday on Twitter.